Above st. Volbenk church, Zelše

Beyond the northwestern end of famous and beautiful Cerknica intermittent lake lies the village of Zelše. And on the top of the hill just beyond the village there is a small church, dedicated to saint Volbenk – as bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg is known in Slovenia.

(Church of St. Volbenk, Zelše, Slovenia – from a kite.)

The church is nice and small, a truly picturesque sight. It was built around 1680 on a triconch plan, with three symmetrical apses on the northeastern, southeastern and southwestern side. The two side apses are topped with half-domes. The church tower was added in 1733. The whole setting is one of the cutest we know and well worth a visit. The acoustics of the triconch nave are exceptional, and attending a concert in this church is quite an experience.

The great polyhistor Johann Weikhard Freiherr von Valvasor wrote about the church of St. Volbenk in his monumental Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (1689). He speaks of the numerous miracles happening there – usual stuff, the blind regaining sight, the crippled walking again etc. – attracting huge crowds coming not just from Carniola, but from Friuli, Carinthia, Styria, Croathia and even further away.

St. Volbenk – Wolfgang of Regensburg – was born circa 934 in Pfullingen, Swabia, Germany. He was first a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier, then a Benedictine monk in the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Switzerland. After the Magyars settled in Pannonia, he was sent there to evangelize them by the Emperor Otto the Great. In 972 he was appointed bishop of Regensburg.

(The kite line is clearly visible in this kite aerial photo.)

Towards the end of his life St. Wolfgang withdrew as a hermit to a solitary spot, the Wolfgangsee in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria. He was discovered there by a hunter and brought back to Regensburg. He died in 994 and was canonized in 1052 by Pope Leo IX.

St. Volbenk can deal with apoplexy, stomach diseases, strokes and paralysis, and various cattle ailments. He is a patron saint of carpenters and wood carvers; and of Regensburg, Germany.

We could add more on St. Volbenk’s tally: that day we planned to shoot above the Cerknica lake, but the wind was terrible. The kite just would’t climb, and after three attempts we were rather frustrated. Then we saw the church and decided to try one last time. And under the protective eye of St. Volbenk the kite flew magnificently, the photos were taken, the day was saved. So … St. Volbenk, master of winds, patron saint of kite aerial photographers? 😉


(Fortunat Bergant: St. Volbenk (Wolfgang), patron of the ill, 1766. Copy of the original, altarpiece in St. Volbenk church, Zelše.)

All photos taken with Nikon 1 J1 on a Great White Delta kite.

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